Sneakers, video games and nukes

North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un

JIM MORIN | Miami Herald

North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un

Here's one of the best things about having your own country handed to you at age 28. Could there be a better pick-up line in a saloon than: "Hey, would you like to come back to the palace and see my nukes?"

So there was Kim Jong Un, North Korea's despot-in-waiting, happily wiling away the hours watching NBA videos and playing with his Nike sneaker collection, only to be informed his daddy had gone off to that Members Only windbreaker in the sky.

It's not that he isn't prepared to step into his father's lifts. After all, when he was 26 or so, despite a military service record limited to having once watched Saving Private Ryan, pop-pop promoted him to become a four-star general in the North Korean army. That means he gets to wear more medals than a Gilbert and Sullivan very modern major general, especially for his heroism at the battle of the buffet line.

Apparently, longtime North Korea watchers have fretted over the idea of having one of the most isolated countries on the face of the planet, armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction and populated by 24 million emotionally overwrought, paranoid citizens who collectively share a ham sandwich once a week, being led by Asia's answer to Lumpy from Leave It to Beaver."

But really, what could possibly go wrong?

Oh sure, the newest head of state, who has been given the title of "Brilliant Comrade," comes from a bloodline of certifiably insane, unpredictable, brutal, megalomaniacal tyrants. But to be fair, doesn't every family have its idiosyncratic personalities?

Still, while there have been some very savvy 20-somethings who made their mark on the world, it is disconcerting to think of a nation with anger management issues combined with nuclear weapons in the hands of a 28-year-old, who only a few days ago was only in control of a Wii console.

Go hang out in Tampa's Ybor City or along St. Petersburg's Central Avenue some Friday night watching all manner of 28-year-olds barfing on themselves and try to imagine some of those fellas running North Korea.

This might be a good time to rethink starting up the fallout shelter industry again.

There has been some speculation that since Kim Jong Un is too green, too young, too un-tested that North Korea will actually be run by a committee of really experienced crazy people until the young man gets up to speed on the bonkers scale of leadership.

And then what?

Well, perhaps the CIA could stage manage a coup d'etat. But there's no guarantee, the "Brilliant Comrade" wouldn't be succeeded by Kim Jong Mongo.

Or we could invade. But is it really worth engaging in a military intervention of a country illuminated by a single 40-watt light bulb, whose only domestic product are the sniffles?

The cruel reality is if North Korea didn't have the capability to vaporize the Pacific Rim, it probably wouldn't matter too much if the country was ruled over by a family dynasty with a genetic disposition to become more easily annoyed than Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

This is only partly facetious, but the world actually does have a secret weapon at its disposal to co-opt the "Brilliant Comrade."

Among the relatively few things known about Baby Kim is that during his brief time as a student in Switzerland, the fledging dictator became enamored with the National Basketball Association and one of its greatest players, Michael Jordan.

How does this sound? Ambassador Michael Jordan.

For decades some of the finest and most sober-minded U.S. foreign policy experts have tried and failed to persuade North Korea to stop acting like Moe Howard with launch codes. The idea of spending time in Pyongyang would not be a big selling point in convincing Jordan to take on the diplomatic posting from hell.

But if Jordan arrived bearing a gift of autographed Air Jordans, isn't it possible the "Brilliant Comrade" would be more than happy to trade in his moniker for "Brilliant Point Guard"?

He is only 28, after all.

Sneakers, video games and nukes 12/26/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 26, 2011 5:02pm]

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